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Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of Chicago

Did you know that for every human on earth, there are about one million ants? They are among the longest-lived insects—with some ant queens passing the thirty-year mark—as well as some of the strongest. Fans of both the city and countryside alike, ants decompose dead wood, turn over soil (in some places more than earthworms), and even help plant forests by distributing seeds. But while fewer than thirty of the nearly one thousand ant species living in North America are true pests, we cringe when we see them marching across our kitchen floors.

No longer! In this witty, accessible, and beautifully illustrated guide, Eleanor Spicer Rice, Alex Wild, and Rob Dunn metamorphose creepy-crawly revulsion into myrmecological wonder. Emerging from Dunn’s ambitious citizen science project Your Wild Life (an initiative based at North Carolina State University), Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Ants of Chicago provides an eye-opening entomological overview of the natural history of Chicago’s species most noted by project participants—and even offers tips on keeping ant farms in your home. Exploring species from the hobbit ant to the tiny trapjaw ant, and featuring contributions from E. O. Wilson and Field Museum ant scientist Corrie Moreau as well as Wild’s stunning photography, this guide will be a tremendous resource for teachers, students, and scientists alike. But more than this, it will transform the way Chicagoans perceive the environment around them by deepening their understanding of its littlest inhabitants, inspiring everyone to find their inner naturalist, get outside, and crawl across the dirt—magnifying glass in hand.

64 pages | 66 color plates | 6 x 8 | © 2017

Biological Sciences: Conservation, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Natural History


“Entomologist Dr. Eleanor doesn’t make the mistake of humanizing ants, but she does elevate the tiny insects into a realm of fascination.”

Los Angeles Times

“Spicer Rice’s style is clear, fluid, and engaging. . . . Especially lovely is the abundance of photographs by Alex Wild, the Ansel Adams of arthropods.”

Carl Zimmer | National Geographic’s “The Loom”

“Ant genetics and reproduction are complex topics, but Spicer Rice makes it easy to understand with minimal jargon. The species descriptions seem like stories about eccentric and entertaining relatives, rather than ants.”

Gwen Pearson | WIRED

“Ants are everywhere. You can find them in the rainforests of the tropics, in the woods behind your house, or even in the cracks of the sidewalk in cities. This means that anyone, anywhere (except surprisingly with such an appropriate name, Antarctica) can find and observe ants. . . . Our wish for you is to continue to observe and study the ants (and other species) in your backyard. There are still many, many unanswered questions to be addressed, scientific puzzles to be solved, and species in need of champions to fight for their protection.”

Corrie S. Moreau and Edward O. Wilson, from the epilogue

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Hobbit Ant (Stenamma spp.)
Chapter 2: Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus)
Chapter 3: Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile)
Chapter 4: Pavement Ant (Tetramorium sp.E)
Chapter 5: Field Ant (Formica)
Chapter 6: Lasius ant (Lasius)
Chapter 7: Trap-jaw Ant (Strumigenys spp.)
Chapter 8: Ponera Ant (Ponera pennsylvanica)
Chapter 9: Winnow Ant (Aphaenogaster rudis)
Chapter 10: Little Black Ant (Monomorium minimum)
Chapter 11: Thief Ant (Solenopsis molesta)
Chapter 12: Winter Ant (Prenolepis imparis)
Chapter 13: Frequently Asked Questions
Chapter 14: How to Keep Ants at Home
Epilogue: The Value of Our Collections, and Yours
by Dr. Corrie S. Moreau and Dr. Edward O. Wilson
Additional Resources

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